The Tjipetir Blocks Mystery

by Sankalan Baidya
The Tjipetir Blocks Mystery

This world has given us enough mysteries. Some have been solved and some are on the verge of being solved. However, there are some mysteries that will never be solved and the Tjipetir Blocks mystery is one such unfortunate one.

Europe has been baffled by the mysterious appearance of soft rubber tablets on several of its beaches for quite some time but these plates came in focus only in 2012 when one of these dark slabs was spotted by a woman who was strolling on England’s Cornwall beach. She saw a dark tablet on the beach sand with a cryptic writing on it. She ignored its presence but a few days later when she stumbled upon another one on a completely different beach.

Tracy Williams, the woman who came across the tablets did not really know that many others had already encountered these tablets before. Out of her new found curiosity, Tracy started researched and ended up finding that the encrypted text which read Tjipetir was actually pronounced as cheep-a-teer and was the name of a village located in Indonesia’s West Java. During her studies she found that Tjipetir, which is currently named as Cepetir, was actually a very popular site during late 19th and early 20th century for Gutta-percha plantation.

The gum of a specific tree in the Gutta-percha plantation known as Palaquium was used for making those tablets. Tracy found during her studies that the rubbery latex was incredibly useful and was widely used in the production of golf balls, toys, surgical devices, furniture, jewelry and false teeth. The most important use was that of the development of telegraph cables that ran under water. Upon further digging Tracy found that the Malaysians were also aware of the latex’s usefulness and used the Palaquium wood and gum for the production of walking sticks and knife handles for a long time – long before the Western World actually started using the rubbery latex.

But the question was, how did the tablets made of the rubbery latex ended up in several of the beaches of Europe? The weird thing that beachcomber Tracy found out was that these tablets with Tjipetir inscribed on them had actually started making their appearance for over a decade before she stumbled upon one in 2012. Interesting, these tablets were found in Sweden, Netherlands, France, Germany, Spain and United Kingdom.

It is this question of ‘how the tablets made their way to European shores from Indonesia’ still remains a mystery. A couple of guesses have been made to explain the phenomenon.

First Guess: Titanic’s sinking was responsible

A study of Titanic’s cargo manifest was studied and found that Gutta-percha tablets were on the list. This made people to think that possible when Titanic sank, these plates went down with ship in 1912. Over the years as Titanic broke down, the tablets were released from captivity and they floated up to the water surface and over years, traveled the ocean and sea currents to reach several beaches of Europe.

Second Guess: Miyazaki Maru was responsible

Almost same as the Titanic story, it is being said that the Japanese passenger ship named Miyazaki Maru was carrying these Tjipetir Blocks in 1917 when German U-Boats destroyed Miyazaki Maru with torpedoes. The ship when down and so did the dark rubbery tablets only to float back to surface later in time and them travel the sea and ocean currents to reach Europe.

But what really happened cannot be proved in any way. If the sunken ships were responsible, then these tablets have been floating around for over or nearly a century before some of them found a resting place on the beaches. Some may never see land. Some, despite reaching beaches may go unnoticed because these Tjipetir Blocks are made of natural degradable products and they will someday degrade and return back to nature before being found by someone like Tracy or other before her.

Sources: 1, 2, 3

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